Why Positive Affirmations Feel Forced—and What to Do Instead

In the pursuit of personal development, many of us have turned to affirmations as a tool for fostering positivity and self-empowerment. However, a common challenge arises when the words we repeat to ourselves don't align with our true beliefs. In the best-case scenario, affirmations might seem ineffective, but in the worst case, they can become a manifestation of toxic positivity.

According to experts, when we neglect our more challenging emotions by masking them with false positivity or non-stop “love and light”, they persist in our subconscious and may even intensify over time. This can create additional tension in our minds and bodies, leading to a cycle of emotional suppression.

Let's explore practical steps for transforming affirmations into a genuine and transformative practice.

Align Affirmations with Authentic Beliefs

Traditional affirmations often involve repeating positive statements, even if they feel disconnected from our inner reality. To break the mold, take some time for self-reflection and tailor your affirmations to align with your genuine beliefs. Instead of asserting statements that feel forced, craft affirmations that resonate with the core of your being.

For example, if an affirmation like, "I love my body," feels forced due to a personal struggle with self-image, consider a more aligned statement such as, "I am learning to appreciate and care for my body, one step at a time”.

If the affirmation is "I am always confident," but you're navigating self-doubt, modify it to align with your current state, such as "I am learning to embrace my confidence, even in moments of doubt."

Acknowledge Both Positive and Challenging Emotions

To truly harness the power of affirmations, it's essential to navigate the complex terrain of the subconscious mind. This involves acknowledging and embracing our authentic emotions, even the challenging ones, instead of pushing them aside in the pursuit of false positivity.

Instead of rigidly adhering to affirmations that deny challenging emotions, imagine crafting statements that acknowledge both positive and difficult feelings. For instance, "I embrace the challenges in my life as opportunities for growth and learning”, or "I embrace both my joy and challenges, recognizing that growth happens in both." This approach fosters a more authentic and sustainable form of positivity.

Visualize Your Affirmations

Take your affirmations a step further by incorporating visualization. Picture yourself embodying the qualities or achieving the goals outlined in your affirmations. See the details—the way you carry yourself, the expressions on your face, and the positive outcomes of your confident demeanor.

For instance, if your affirmation is "I am confident," visualize yourself confidently navigating a challenging situation. See the details—the way you carry yourself, the expressions on your face, and the positive outcomes of your confident demeanor.

Turn Your Affirmations Into ‘Iffirmations’

Affirmations often start with “I am” and then state a desired outcome or feeling. However, a refreshing alternative is the concept of 'iffirmations'—posing questions that start with "what if." These questions open up a realm of possibilities and feel more authentic than making statements that may not align with current beliefs.

Some examples:

  • What if things are always happening for my highest good?
  • What if it’s okay to feel this way right now?
  • What if I am free to be who I truly am?
  • What if I am deserving of love and affection from myself and others?
  • What if I can embrace my imperfections?
  • What if I can let my old stories and self-judgments go?
  • What if I am capable of achieving more than I think?
  • What if setbacks are guiding me toward a better path?
  • What if I am exactly where I need to be right now?
  • What if every 'end' is a prelude to a new beginning?

Asking these “what if” questions can feel more authentic than stating an affirmation, and they resonate at a deeper level. They prime the brain to find creative answers to whatever question you’re asking.


In the pursuit of personal growth, positive affirmations can be a powerful ally, but their effectiveness lies in their authenticity. By aligning affirmations with individual beliefs, embracing the full spectrum of emotions, incorporating visualization, and exploring the possibilities within 'what if' questions, a genuine transformation unfolds—one that resonates with authenticity, curiosity, and the limitless potential inherent in every moment. 

As you embark on your personal journey of self-discovery, consider how these insights can reshape your approach to affirmations, fostering a positive mindset that truly aligns with your authentic self.